Stamps rarin' to go

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

CALGARY -- Someone grab a paddle, because the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are supposed to get spanked here tonight.

They're 101/2-point 'dogs, their opponent, the Calgary Stampeders, are widely regarded as the top team in the CFL, and the high-flying Horsemen will be even meaner tonight at McMahon Stadium because they're trying to nail down first place in the tough-as-nails West Division.

A Liberal has a better chance of winning in this town.

If the Bombers manage, however, to somehow pull off the miracle and get a win in a place where they haven't won in six years, well, that would be something worth celebrating, according to defensive back Anthony Malbrough.

Not only that, he said, it would be the loudest statement the Bombers (6-9) have made all season.

"Knowing that you can beat teams and knowing that you can go in and compete with teams is one feeling, but after it's done, at the end of the game if you've done it, that's a feeling that's totally different," Malbrough said.

Winnipeg's biggest win of the season was actually over Calgary (10-5), but that was an eternity ago, in July.

("We still have a bitter taste in our mouth from that game," Stamps quarterback Henry Burris warned. Gulp.)

Since then, however, Winnipeg has beaten up on only Toronto, Hamilton and a banged-up Edmonton squad.

The Bombers, who have won four of their last five, are going to clinch second place in the East Division eventually; it's just a matter of when. A triumph tonight or a Toronto loss to Montreal this afternoon will do it, but if the Bombers are going to make noise in the post-season, Malbrough decreed, a victory tonight is critical.

LAST STIFF TEST

That's because this is their last stiff test of the regular season. They travel next weekend to Montreal to take on the Alouettes, who have clinched first in the East and will likely be coasting, before wrapping up at home against hapless Hamilton.

"You want to come out with this win right here, because most definitely it builds confidence," Malbrough said. "You can always go back to this and be like, 'OK, we can beat the best team in the league. We can compete.'"

It will not be an easy task. Burris has thrown 31 touchdown passes, including three in a 42-5 thrashing of the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Monday, and he has guided the Red and White to wins in five of their last six games.

"I hate to throw out the word great, because great is a category on its own, but he's playing very good right now," Malbrough said.

And while Malbrough believes there are some out there who think the Bombers aren't that good, don't count Burris as a member of that group.

"You definitely see that team now starting to catch their wind," Smilin' Hank said. "We always expected them to be there in the end.

"They're a type of team that has too much talent, they had too much success last year, and they understand what it takes to get back there."

They can dance, too. This game is being billed as a battle of the end zone celebrations after Stamps receivers Jeremaine Copeland and Nik Lewis called out the Bombers on Monday.

Winnipeg slotback Terrence Edwards, who came up with the recent duck, duck, goose and race walking celebrations, played it straight yesterday when asked what the pass catchers had planned for tonight.

"We might not do anything. You never know," Edwards said coyly under the sunny Alberta sky. "They're in our way. One of our goals is making the playoffs, so we gotta go through them to do it.

"Our goal is to come here, get a win and clinch a playoff spot."


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